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Government Announces Steps To Promote Ayurvedic Medicine

Inaugurating the second World Ayurveda Congress at the University of Pune on Sunday, the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Anbumani Ramadoss, //announced a series of steps to be taken by the government to promote plant-based medicine in India and abroad. He said, 'In a scenario where the world was turning to plant-based system of medicine, India’s rich tradition needed to be tapped and packaged more effectively for the global market.'

Comparing India to China, Dr.Ramdoss added, 'China occupies 27 per cent share of the global market due to its effective packaging of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), whereas India's share is only 2 per cent.'

The Minister also stressed the need to improve the export of medicinal plants as finished products. 'Currently, 90 per cent of our medicinal plant exports are in the raw material form. This process needs to be reversed, wherein 90 per cent of the exports will be finished products,' he said.

The steps planned include,

* Setting up of Medicinal Plant Boards in 10 zones countrywide, which would provide support to local farmers. These boards would also be responsible for the cultivation and development of medicinal plants.

In this context,help from the Commerce ministry has been sought. Dr.Ramdoss stated that the Union Minister of State for Commerce, Jairam Ramesh, had already begun touring the nation for this purpose. Already, three zones have been planned at Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Uttaranchal.

* Providing traditional medicine to the 10 zones that would help local farmers.

* Incorporating traditional medicine as part of the curriculum for medical students.

In this regard,the Minister remarked, 'Just as universities abroad have a modern diagnostic module and a treatment module based on plant-based medicine, similarly we are working on a new curriculum wherein students will be given an orientation towards ayurveda, along with modern medic ine'. The Minister also emphasised the need for regulatory bodies to ensure standardisation of medical education. He insisted that various medical councils like Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Medical Council of India (MCI) need to be more transparent.He added that stringent steps taken in this direction will include making amendments to the Councils' Act Dr.Ramdoss feels that India needs to develop a standard treatment and procedural code for ayurvedic medicines. Commenting on the recent objections by experts in Canada and the US, to the high metal content in ayurvedic medicines, Dr.Ramadoss said, 'This was because there were no standard criteria used. Heavy metals are part of standard ingredients in Ayurveda. Abroad they are tested by the criteria used for food products, whereas in India they are used as medicinal products. Thus, there is a great need for standardisation and scientific validation of these products.' The Minister concedes that, 'This would require upgradation of laboratory infrastructure and budgetary allocation for more sophisticated research and development.' /ASH/L

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